No indication of threat to diamond industry, Antwerp says
At press time, it does not appear that any industry members died or were injured in the March 22 terrorist attacks on the Brussels airport and subway that killed at least 34, despite its proximity to the Antwerp, Belgium, diamond trading hub.
“I have not heard of any members of the Belgian diamond industry being victims of these attacks and I hope that continues to be the case,” said Ernest Blom, president of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, in a statement.
But as it involved an airport frequently used by members of the diamond industry, the attack struck many as too close to home.
“Along, I am sure, with many thousands of members of the diamond industry around the world, I have passed through the departure halls of Brussels Zaventem airport scores of times as I left Belgium after meetings or business,” Blom added. “Seeing the images on television and the Internet of the wrecked check-in counters therefore brings home to all of us even more strongly the shocking nature of this cowardly attack on innocent people. As with many other diamantaires, I have very many friends in Belgium. Indeed the WFDB’s offices are based in Antwerp.”
According to Antwerp World Diamond Centre, the city’s bourses are open but not accessible from outside the diamond areas.
“There is no indication of a direct threat toward the diamond industry,” says head of communications Karen Rentmeesters. “The state of threat level since the Paris attacks is maintained.”
The AWDC did cancel a Purim concert scheduled for this afternoon “in light of the horrific incidents in Brussels this morning, and out of respect for the victims of this attack and their families,” said president Ari Epstein in a statement.
“Our hearts go out to the victims, and to all those who lost loved ones,” he added.
The twin blasts could also scramble the travel plans of the many visitors to the Baselworld fair, some of whom have connections through Brussels. On social media, visitors reported beefed-up fair security and travelers were advised to leave lots of time at the airport.
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for today’s attacks.